Animation Alumni Panel

Earlier this week, animation students had the opportunity to showcase their work and hear feedback from animation alumni. Department Head of Animation Sean Ridgway was
on hand to facilitate the evening and described the goal for the evening was “was to bring in a few of the many successful animation alumni to give back to our current animation students.  The discussions centered around what they learned at CATO and how it prepared them for success, what working in the industry is really like and what it took to follow their passions and achieve their goals.” It was also a chance for current students to ask straight-up questions and receive unfiltered answers.

The alumni on hand included Chad Winstone (class of 2009-2011) who is a 3D Character Artist at Disney’s Club Penguin and is now an instructor at CAT in the Animation program. Also on hand was Svend Gregori (class of 2009-2011) who is currently a Senior Animator at Yeti Farm, Harley Knife (class of 2009-20122) who works as a Junior Animator at Yeti Farm as well. And rounding out the group; Krista Baron (Class of 2011-2013) who nabbed a job at Bardel Entertainment as a 3D and 2D Animator right after graduating from CAT.

These four felt compelled to attend this animation panel to give back to current students, who are following in their footsteps. During the almost 75 minute Q&A session, the students learned about creative freedom, work quotas and the challenges of working in the animation industry, specifically in the Okanagan. In addition to this, the alumni panel shared the importance of networking, both on and offline.

Here are some quotes gathered from the evening:

“What prepared me (for the animation industry) was being hardworking, being independent, knowing when to ask questions and knowing when to figure it out myself..being good at time management, being organized, just getting stuff done.”Krista Baron said “What you need to know from CATO is the basics of animation or the basics of modelling…the fundamentals.”

In offering advice to those that feel stuck in their current job Krista said “If you feel stuck, then quit.  But find another job first, then quit. (laughs)”.

Instructor Chad Winstone shared some thoughts about why he loves his career, “I love everything (about what I do).  I love being able to do art for a living, it’s much better than having to swing a hammer (for a living).” He even passed down some words of wisdom that a mentor has shared with him as a student, “you must emerge from the Valley of Suck” he said.

Svend shared his thoughts on the advantage of the small talent pool in the local animation industry, “(Animation) is a really small industry (from Kelowna to Vancouver)…if you’re doing really well, people are going to know about you, even if you’ve never met them.  It’s kind of surreal.”

And finally, Harley shared his thoughts on taking the school experience for all its worth, “You’re alone out there. After school here, you’re by yourself.  It’s up to you to put in that work to get that job.  Right now you have people around you to help you with ideas, but after you grad you’re by yourself.  These times can be the best thing for you or the worst thing for you.  It’s up to you to decide what you want.”

Thanks to the alumni who were so open in sharing the trials and tribulations of graduation and finding a career, this kind of information is very valuable and not often shared. Stay tuned for more events like these and to see some recent work produced by the Animation Students at CAT, check out “Bunny Love” on our Youtube Channel.